We’ll be the first to admit it: Search engine optimization (SEO) is confusing. One of the biggest sources of confusion is the fact that it’s constantly changing. If SEO is in your marketing toolbox, you’ve likely had moments of uncertainty about what’s important, what’s outdated, and how to effectively implement it within your business.
Sure, search engine marketing can be a headache, but there’s no denying that it’s also critical to increasing your visibility and growing your business. That’s why we’ve put together a quick guide of what works, what doesn’t, and what’s new in the world of SEO. Stick with us and you’ll learn valuable SEO tips for property managers looking to stand out from the pack.
#1: Develop a Keyword Strategy
The first step to mastering search engine marketing is to do keyword research. Keyword research is simply researching the actual search terms that people are typing into search engines. Your goal is to identify which search terms your target audience is using; then begin to develop useful content around those topics, whether it’s blog posts, website landing pages, or e-books.
Here’s how to get started:
- Make a list of the topics most important to your business. Let’s say you’re a property management company in Austin. Your topics might include: Austin, Texas; finding suitable tenants; marketing properties; complete property management; and handling maintenance.
- Once you have a list of the topics you want to rank for, start coming up with keywords that people might be searching within each topic. For example, Austin property owners might be searching ‘property management companies in Austin.’
- You can drill down even further with a specific long-tail keyword like ‘student housing property management companies in Austin.’
- After you have a list of varied keywords for each topic, use tools like Google Adwords or Moz to finalize your target keywords.
#2: Create a Positive User Experience
SEO is all about connecting users with quality, useful resources to answer their query. That means that your primary job is to make sure that the content you’re putting out there is helpful, updated, and delivers a positive user experience.
In order to get good SEO results, you need to have a great website. In fact, Google and other search engines will eventually weed you out if your website doesn’t function well, doesn’t serve the user, or doesn’t meet modern standards. Take stock of your current website and determine if your website is truly giving users a positive experience:
- Is your website encrypted with a secure connection?
- Is it mobile-friendly?
- Are you using variations of your business’ keywords?
- Do you have meaningful links to other pages on your website; like listings, services, and helpful resources?
Your #1 goal is to create a quality website that people can easily navigate and learn from—if you do that, search engine algorithms will reward you for it.
#3: Manage Your Google Business Page
Maybe you’ve noticed that when you Google certain businesses, a corresponding Google page pops up on the side of the page. You’ll also see Google pages when you search for a business on Maps or look up their reviews. These Google Business Pages (also called Google My Business) are an easy and free way to maximize your visibility and take ownership of your online presence. All you have to do is claim and verify your Google Business Page to get started.
Once you’ve claimed your listing, optimize your page using local SEO to attract the attention of those searching for your business. Update your description to align with the keyword strategy on your website; add photos; and monitor and engage with customer reviews. You can even upload 360° virtual tours of your business on your listing. If you’re feeling creative, you could promote your most eye-catching property right from your Google page.
#4: Use Alt Text and File Names for Images
Here’s a tip that you won’t find in most SEO 101 guides: Your images need keyword optimization, too! All too often, we upload photos to our websites without updating the file names or adding alt text (a brief description of the image). The result? Search engines can’t tell what your photo is, and it disappears into the ether. If this is news to you, don’t panic—it’s an easy fix that will significantly boost your online discoverability.
You already know that you should be marketing your properties by taking amazing photos. When you upload one of those shiny new images to your website, you’ll want to change the file name and the alt text to describe the photo. For example, instead of uploading a photo of an apartment building with the file name ‘IMG_006’ (we’ve all done it!), change the file name to ‘Motown Apartments Detroit Michigan’ and elaborate using alt text: ‘Property managers can help rental property owners in Detroit find great residents.’ Voilà!
#5: Ditch Exact Match Keywords
The world of SEO changes fast, so we totally understand if you’re still using ‘exact match keywords’ for your SEM strategy. Here’s the deal: In the last few years, Google has switched gears to focus on sending high-quality, reliable content to the top of the ranks. In fact, they’re now using machine-learning AI to connect users with relevant content, even if it doesn’t contain the exact keyword they searched. The new technology is able to learn which keywords are related topics and connect users with the best results.
For example, someone searching for ‘affordable 2-bedrooms in San Diego’ might see your blog post titled “The Cheapest Apartment Buildings in San Diego” even if you didn’t use exact match keywords. It’s all about organizing your online presence around the topics that matter most to your business. You can let the robots at Google do much of the work of matching you to the right consumers.
#6: Implement Paid SEM
Got some extra cash? Implementing targeted, direct ads is a great way to support your SEO efforts. While the cost varies depending on your approach and goals, it is entirely possible to implement paid search engine marketing on a budget. If you identify who you want to reach and the action you want them to take when they see your ad, it’s easy to design an affordable plan around your goal.
PPC (pay-per-click) ads are the most popular way to appear at the top or bottom of search engine results. Here’s how it works: You’ll set up the ad by specifying which searches you want to appear in. For example, you could choose to appear in searches for ‘best property management company in Detroit.’ You can also customize your ad by region and distance from your business. If the user clicks your ad, that’s when you’ll get charged (that’s the ‘pay-per-click’ part!). When you set up the ad, you can specify the maximum amount you want to spend before the ad ends.
How do you use search marketing to make your business stand out? Share your SEO tips for property managers in the comments below!Read more on Marketing